Wing flies high, but Ricky beaten around the Bush
By Keith Williams
After the farrago of the last day of Rickmansworth’s league season – during which eleven rival sides were controversially docked 30 points apiece for ‘looking at Paul Blackwell in a funny way’ – the Sunday XI enjoyed a more peaceful encounter amidst the rural charms and seasoned drinkers of Chiltern CC.
Overnight rain before the game had caused some concerns, but thanks to the efforts of Sam Stabler and his dad in rustling up a quick wicker man and leading a chant of ‘Summer is Icumen in’, it had dried nicely by the start time. In keeping with their surroundings, the Rickmansworth XI included a number of Chiltern stalwarts in their ranks, making up for an unusual dearth of Antipodeans.
Fielding first, the Rickmansworth attack initially kept things tighter than a mallard’s arse, Jason Phillipson being rewarded by the wicket of Firmin. His fellow opener, Lake (alas, Emerson and Palmer were unavailable this week), holed out once the pressure was off. Alas, Hollybush’s best player, Helm (who would be a great captain), was dropped quicker than a Cliff Richard song from a children’s party playlist. He then proceeded to tuck into the home side’s bowling like Keith Mason at an all-you-can-eat buffet, as the visitors looked on course for a demanding total.
Once Helm was dismissed, though, his team began to fold like a My First Origami kit. Debutant Ben Wing (in for Andy Bird, thus avoiding the opportunity for an obvious headline) took four wickets with his spin, and would have gained a slot on the honours board had he not shelled a caught-and-bowled. Despite several other drops – varying from straightforward, to one which nearly earned Ken Brown an emergency lobotomy as a birthday present – the hosts did manage to hang onto six catches, three of which were held by Ray Hibbert. Neal Thathapudi also ‘kept well, with deliveries passing through to him anywhere between ankle and head height.
Hollybush’s total was therefore the cause for a little optimism amongst the hosts at tea, although the tea itself was not. The general opinion was that the candle on Ken’s birthday cake was the most appetising thing available by a considerable margin. Returning to the pitch, Rickmansworth needed a good start in order to challenge; unfortunately, what they got was Mark Berwick dismissed for a duck. There was some hope when Thathapudi and Hibbert were batting together, but their dismissal saw a steady procession of wickets, as Ricky finished sixty runs short. The best bowler for the visitors was the splendidly-named Bonny, whose regular new ball partner Clyde was unavoidably absent this week.
Despite the defeat, Rickmansworth appreciated a good-humoured and well-balanced match against friendly opposition, which is what Sunday cricket should be all about, really. Hopefully this – and the many other similar matches which the team enjoyed this year – will be a good advertisement for the joys of friendly cricket.